23rd August 2011
Dr Jason Tuck presented his research on media representations of the Team GB track cycling team. He conducted content analysis of British newspaper coverage of the team during the Beijing 2008 Olympics and semiotic analysis of recent advertising campaigns featuring Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton. Findings suggest that there are some interesting intersections now developing between representations of gender, national, individual and team identities. In addition, the increased influence of Sky's sponsorship of British cycling has added a new corporatist identity into the mix. In summary, the media have successfully built a 'conceptual map' of codes, messages and meanings to define the Team GB track cycling team that blends traditional/stereotypical and progressive identities. This 'map' is likely to continue to develop and will undoubtedly be used to help the British audience feel more closely affiliated with 'their' heroes and heroines in the velodrome in London 2012.
Professor Eric Anderson presented his research on the cultural reduction of homophobia in American teamsports. He compared research with 26 athletes from 2002 to 2010, showing that today's openly gay male athletes are better received by their teammates. Results show that when athletes come out of the closet today, it binds their teams closer together and permits heterosexual men to develop closer relationships with each other. Finally, Professor Anderson found more contact sport athletes coming out than in his previous sample
Sports Science Consultancy Unit supports future British Olympic hopefuls
Jo Batey, Senior Lecturer in Sport & Exercise Psychology and a BASES-accredited Sport and Exercise Scientist, has been working with the British national archery team; since May 2010, Jo Batey has been providing sport psychology support to the Olympic development recurve squad. Squad members range from 15 to 20 years old and are potential future Olympic hopes for 2016 onwards. In July, Jo Batey accompanied the squad to the second leg of the European Junior Championships in Cyprus, where one of the young archers won gold in the cadet boys category.
Jo Batey's work, carried out through the University's Sports Science Consultancy Unit, involved supporting the archers at their training camps at the National Sports Centre in Lilleshall for a number of weekends throughout the year. "It has been very interesting and rewarding", she commented. "I knew nothing about archery before working with the squad and therefore learning about the sport and the culture was a steep learning curve for me."
Much of her work involved helping the archers to cope with the demands of competition by equipping them with the appropriate mental skills such as imagery, relaxation, concentration, emotional control etc. It involves delivering workshops on developing confidence, how to prepare effectively, using performance routines etc., as well as spending time with the athletes on a one-to-one basis. "Thinking clearly under pressure is not always easy for athletes", explained Jo Batey, who has previously provided similar support to another Olympic promise, the pentathlete Natasha Hunt. "Therefore brief, directive reminders about what they need to remember or to keep doing can be helpful for them, as can the use of motivational or directional cue words that have previously been agreed with them. Helping athletes deal with underperformance and regaining perspective is also an important role at competition as well as ensuring the support team are operating smoothly in order to best support the athletes. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope to be able to travel with the squad again."